Yesterday Zoey lied to me. (And I just lied to you because it was not yesterday but a week or so ago; however, “yesterday” sounds better, so there.) Of course she has lied to me before. They all do, in a way—babies and the way they cry, toddlers telling tall tales because the world is one big fantastical party in which fairies scatter toys across the floor and monsters live in every closet. But there comes a time when a child can tell the difference between imagination and objective truth. Call it a developmental milestone, if you will, like teething or walking, talking, the discovery that a child’s mind and thinking are separate from that of her parents. Better yet—the pint-sized Oprah Aha! Moment that it is okay, that the truth is not flat but can be warmed and bent between two hands for personal gain. I have heard it said that children do not grow out of lying but into it.So the other night (yeah, a week or so ago), I told Zoey she could only have one of the gold chocolate coins she had looted from a birthday party piñata. So she did. Then I was in the bathroom (with the door open, going pee—see? No dishonesty here!) and she walked by the door holding her hands cupped in front of her. Hi mommy, she said and kept walking fast. I finished up and followed. Whatcha’ got there? I asked, and she hid her hands behind her back and said it was nothing. I mean, this is hardly one for Encylopedia Brown, you know where this is going. It’s stupid. Yes, she had two gold chocolate coins in her hands and had taken them to her room to eat where I would not see.
And I was proud. There, I said it. I know lying is bad and I should definitely not foster that behavior, but it was cute, those small hands cupping gold-foiled chocolate coins, the way she nervously said hi to me. The girl has no guile, at least not yet, but the effort, well. Most nights I tell Zoey she cannot have any more dessert and then I walk into the kitchen to eat cookies by the back door. I weave stories of mermaids and Santa, the Switch Witch after Halloween, no more or you’ll get a tummy ache, I say, and say thank you and you love it when somebody gives you socks for a present. She is learning from me, and while two slim pieces of bad chocolate aren’t worrisome, what if one day the purloined gold coins aren’t candy?
Silly, I know. It’s silly to borrow what ifs from the future when nothing is wrong. No, lying is natural, healthy to an extent. Like right now, for example? You should totally comment and say that you loved this post.